The Apple Store Black Friday deals have been unveiled, but heres where to find better prices on Apple gear – CNET


The Apple Store’s Black Friday deals are here, and they aren’t much. 

Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET

This story is part of Holiday Gift Guide 2020, CNET’s gift picks with expert advice, reviews and recommendations for the latest tech gifts for you and your family.

Apple has revealed its Black Friday weekend deals, which run from Friday, Nov. 27, through Cyber Monday, Nov. 30. As in years past, though, there’s a catch: The new sale offers little in the way of discounts on iPhones, iPads, Macs or accessories like Apple TVs, AirPods and HomePods. Instead, depending on the product you can get up to a $150 Apple Store gift card. 

The exact value of the gift card will vary but in order to get the full $150 gift card you’d need to buy either an Intel-equipped MacBook Pro 16-inch or 21.5-inch iMac. Other Macs, including the new 13-inch MacBook Pro that features Apple’s M1 chip, are not eligible. Neither are the new MacBook Air, Mac Mini, larger 27-inch iMac or iMac Pro

If you can still find a 13-inch Intel-equipped MacBook Air or Intel-equipped 13-inch MacBook Pro with two Thunderbolt ports you could get a $50 Apple Store gift card. As Apple discontinued both models, you’d have to find one of these in a physical Apple Store. 

Beyond the Macs, most new Apple gear is not eligible for the gift card promotion. You could get a $50 gift card with the iPhone 11, XR or SE (so, not the new iPhone 12 line). Gift cards for iPads are limited to $50 for the iPad Mini or $100 for either size of the iPad Pro with no offers available for the new iPad or iPad Air. 

Apple is also not offering double Apple Card cash back, which it did last year. This year the cashback rate appears to be staying at its regular 3%. 

The promotions are yet another reminder that the best Apple deals are almost always found outside Apple’s own physical or virtual store. At the Apple Store, for instance, a new set of AirPods ($159) or AirPods Pro ($249) can get you a $25 Apple Store gift card but no discount off the regular price. Woot, by contrast, has already cut the $250 price of AirPods Pro down to $190 right now, and Walmart will offer them for $169 starting on Wednesday, Nov. 25. Standard AirPods are currently $119 at Amazon, and have dipped as low as $99 at online retailers in recent weeks. That’s a savings of $59 to $80 on the Pro model and up to $40 on the standard AirPods — both much more than a $25 gift card that can only be redeemed later.

All the major US carriers have promotions running for the latest iPhones while Amazon has been running deals on Apple Watches (including the latest Series 6), iPads (regular, new Air and Pros) and the Intel MacBook Air (currently $100 off at Amazon, but that’s up from $150 off earlier this week). 

Apple also doesn’t make the full list of which products get which discount easily accessible on its promo page, but if you’re interested in the full list you can find it here

The best deals appear to be on the full-size HomePod, which gets you a $100 gift card, and the Apple TV 4K, which gets youa $50 gift card. Neither product has seen the same level of discounting at other stores this season, though the HomePod has previously dipped to $200 at Best Buy.

All told, unless you want one of those two devices or to buy something directly from Apple, you’re likely better off shopping elsewhere for deals on Apple products. 

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